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Students examine Russian networks in action

MIT-Russia program sends 12 students to Moscow as part of “Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Networks” IAP course
The students spent 10 days in Russia in January.
The students spent 10 days in Russia in January.
Photo: Olena Chernishenko

Twelve MIT students and 15 Russian students from leading Moscow universities participated last month in the IAP “Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Networks” course in Russia.

Created as an application-oriented introduction to networks, the course focused on analyzing and modeling large-scale networks in a variety of domains (i.e. transportation, logistics, energy distribution, telecommunication and social networks). “Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Networks” combined lectures, group projects and discussions to facilitate the practical use of the techniques studied, with faculty drawn from multiple MIT departments.

At Yandex (the Russian equivalent of Google) and the control center of the Moscow Railway system, the students had ample opportunities to see networks in action. “The company visit to the Russia Railway control center was very interesting. It put everything we have seen in the lectures in context,” wrote one student.

Throughout the 10 days of their stay, MIT-Russia students worked closely with their Russian counterparts, getting to know them well inside and outside the classroom. The Russian cohort included students from institutions such as the Higher School of Economics, Moscow Aviation Institute and Moscow State University. “Getting to know the Russian students was fantastic. They were so gracious to us, and were doing incredibly interesting work. I met people involved in startups doing everything from internet tutoring to making artificial diamonds,” MIT graduate student Robert Manduca said. Collectively, the MIT and Russian students toured the city, seeing such places as the Kremlin and its Armoury, Theater Square, Kitai Gorod and Tretiakov Art Gallery.

“MIT-Russia has served as an awesome cultural and learning experience,” wrote MISTI student Rohit Singh in his report. “I loved meeting Russian students and being able to experience Moscow with them after class.”

One highlight was the trip to the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), which included an evening event with Skoltech president (and MIT professor) Edward Crawley. Skoltech is a private graduate research university located near Moscow. Established in 2011 in collaboration with MIT, Skoltech integrates research, education, and innovation in biomedicine, energy, information technology, space and nuclear science. “This was a fabulous experience and I am very thankful that I got the opportunity to learn more about science and technology and to be a part of the Skoltech initiative,” said MIT student Denis Bozic. The Institute recently opened admission to MIT students and is in the process of selecting its second class for MS programs in biomedicine, energy and IT.

This year’s trip was generously supported by Skoltech, the MIT Skoltech Initiative and the Skolkovo Foundation  — a nonprofit organization leading the development of the Skolkovo innovation ecosystem. The three institutions launched a multiyear collaboration in Oct. 2011 to build the new university.

Each year, MISTI places over 680 MIT students in professional internships and research positions in seventeen countries around the world. MIT-Russia was founded in 2011.

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